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Arrest made in Pa. school fire

July 03, 2002

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An arrest has been made in connection with several fires set June 5 both inside and outside the Cumberland Valley Christian School in Hamilton Township that caused an estimated $150,000 damage, said Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg Tuesday.

Eric Todd Woods, 21, of 2795B Letterkenny Road, Chambersburg, was charged Tuesday with two counts of arson and one count each of burglary, criminal mischief and institutional vandalism, according to a press release from Trooper Skip Sydnor.

A news conference at the Chambersburg barrack is scheduled for 9 a.m. today to provide details on the investigation and the arrest, police said.

The fire at the Cumberland Valley Christian School was spotted by a neighbor walking a dog near the school at 600 Miller St.

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Fire was found in the computer room in the rear of the school, in a storage trailer, outside a propane tank and in a pile of lumber being used for new construction.

There was little fire damage to the interior of the school, but heat melted the computers and destroyed the lab, Sydnor said. Fire ruined the items in the storage trailer but did little other damage.

The June 5 fire was the second for the school in a week. Two days earlier, a fire was set in the back of the building where new construction is under way. That caused about $5,000 damage, Principal Carl McKee said.

McKee said parents and students volunteered immediately to help with the cleanup, but that was not necessary because insurance covered the costs of a professional firm to restore the school.

"The smoke damage was dealt with and the textbooks that could be were cleaned," McKee said.

The school, which is behind the Open Door Church, was closed for the summer at the time of the fire.

Someone attempted to set a fire behind Falling Spring Elementary School, 1006 Falling Spring Road, June 7. That fire burned out, causing only minor damage, police said.

Police would not say if the fires at the two schools are related.

Most of the cleanup was completed last week.

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